In October of 2012 the Gallagher family had just returned from holiday when four-year old Joshua complained of a bad headache which continued over the following days. After a visit to the doctor Joshua was referred to an optometrist. On mother’s instinct, Annemarie brought Joshua back for further medical attention which was just as well, as they discovered Joshua had a tumour behind his brain.
“We were in shock, which was good, shock protects you from the horror and it dulls the memory to a blur. At that stage we had no idea of the new life, communities and wonderful people that we were all about to meet.”
The following days were consumed with uncertainty for the Gallaghers, so they were greatly relieved when told they could stay with Ronald McDonald House Charities. Exhausted and unsure how long they would be away from their Rotorua home, the family left the running of their local hotel business in the hands of temporary cover and travelled to the National Children’s Hospital in Auckland.
The long journey for the Gallagher family then began in the supportive arms of RMHC. The family were based at the House for nearly three months during Joshua’s intensive treatment which saw many difficult days for all of them.
The Gallaghers are deeply grateful to “all the wonderful people involved in the operation of these Houses,” as well as the many support programmes it provides. Joshua’s brother Daniel loved attending the on-site school and the volunteer cook nights gave the entire family a chance to enjoy a meal and spend some quality time together away from the hospital.
With further treatment needed for Joshua, the Gallaghers were grateful to have Ronald McDonald House as their second home. “We are actually happy to be back here; to have that support and to be around others who understand” shares Annemarie on their return to the House in February 2013.
The Gallagher family stayed with us on and off for two years, and even though they are no longer here with us they continue to support the house through raising funds and awareness in their local community, a reflection of their gratitude. “You can’t ever underestimate the value of this House and the support, it’s just amazing.”